METARIE, La. (WALA) - The Saints put on pads for the first time in camp this weekend.
It’s the second year with the team for former Alabama standout and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram after an opening year hampered by injuries.
Here are Ingram’s thoughts as the Saints go to work for the 2012-13 season.
How are you feeling?
“I’m feeling good. I’m just taking it one day at a time. I feel good out there running and cutting. I feel healthy, I feel strong and I feel fast. It’s just about staying healthy, keeping the maintenance up on it and making sure I maintain that health throughout the whole season. That’s the number one priority is getting better and staying healthy.”
Can you talk about the running backs group as a whole with you, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory?
“I think those four names can go anywhere and play, not just here. It’s great that we all have such a good relationship in that running back room. We hang out together all the time. If anyone has a question in the film room, everybody is open and we help each other out. We push each other to get better. We compete, but at the same time it’s friendly competition. Everyone wants to go out there and win a championship. Everybody wants to be the best that they can be for the team. That’s why we come out here and practice hard every day.”
You mentioned maintaining your health is very important for this season. What else have you learned from last season that you can take into this season?
“The rookie year was just a complete learning experience, just coming in, being familiar with my teammates, getting comfortable with my coaches, the organization, the playbook and everything else. I learned the playbook last year and this offseason, just studying it and watching film. Your second year in the NFL, I think you grow a little bit more. It was similar to your freshman year in college. My freshman year, I did some good things. My sophomore year, I grew into a better player by learning offense and learning how to read defenses. I just think your second year in the league you grow more as a player and I think that could bring some more success.”
Can you talk about the reaction you got from the crowd on the play where you bounced it outside for a big gain?
“That was just a little something. It probably would have only been a three yard run or something. It felt good to bounce it outside, cut it up and finish the run. I’m just out here working hard.”
Were you thinking about the injury at all on a play like that when you do have to cut up the field?
“I don’t think about my injuries at all when I’m out there. I just go out there and give it one hundred percent. If you go out there and think about an injury, that’s how you get hurt again. I just go out there one hundred percent, full speed, and when I see something, I cut. If it’s on that knee, it’s on that knee. If it’s on the toe, it’s on the toe. It really doesn’t matter to me. I just go out there and go one hundred percent, full speed every rep I have and try to make the best of it.”
Are you at the point right now where you think you can be the every down back on third down?
“Definitely. I believe any way that the coaches need me to contribute in this offense, that’s what I’m going to do and that’s what I’m happy to do. In my eyes, I’ve always thought that I’m an every down back, an all-purpose back, a guy who can run inside, a guy who can run outside, a guy who can run routes and catch the ball out of the backfield and pick up yards for you, and a pass pro. I don’t label myself as a short yardage back or a power back. I think I’m an all-purpose back that can play for you on every down no matter what it is.”
Are they bringing you along more in the passing formations?
“Yes. You just have to grow a little more. You have to know the protections. You have to know your routes when nobody is coming so you can get to your check downs for Drew (Brees). You just have to be one hundred percent on your execution out there. That’s my main focus is coming out here and having no mental errors and just having complete execution every single practice.”